Coronavirus-hit airports are on the brink of failure

As coronavirus-hit airlines line up for government hand-outs, airports the world over fear being overlooked in their own time of crisis.

In some countries, such as the US, airports are owned by quasi-governmental agencies. Elsewhere in the world, they are often privately owned: The multi-billion dollar German company Fraport, for instance, owns and operates Frankfurt Airport, as well as Slovenia’s Ljubljana Airport, among others. Either way, all airports depend on spending from passengers to operate—through fees from airlines, foot traffic at their retail outlets, and services such as providing parking to fliers and their families. But no passengers and no planes means no real revenue, and the likely loss of many jobs: In the US alone, commercial airports support more than 11.5 million jobs, according to estimates from the Airports Council International (ACI).

Now, airports from New Zealand to Canada are scrabbling for public support in a bid to remain open. Industry groups warn that these vital pieces of infrastructure currently face losses of an estimated $25 billion this year. In Europe alone, airports expect to see 187 million fewer passengers in 2020 compared to 2019, a loss of 7.5%.

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